Though it is typically thought of as a joyful and merry time, the holiday season can also be incredibly stressful as well. From the crowded shopping centers to large gatherings of friends and family, it can be difficult to find the time for everything which often results in loads of unwanted strain. Thankfully, there are several ways to manage holiday stress.
Compiled below are 20 holiday stress relief tips on how to beat holiday strife once and for all.
1. Get some sunshine.
The cold, snowy winter months provides little incentive to step outdoors, especially if you live in an area where it’s actually painful to be outside during this time of year. Lack of sunlight can easily lead to vitamin D deficiency. The vitamin D you absorb by going outside not only brings essential nutrients but can also help to offset the side effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) as well.
So, next time you think about cozying up next to the fire under a warm blanket, perhaps bundle up in your warmest winter gear and head outside. Go for a quick jog around the block or take your dog on a nice leisurely walk. It will do wonders!
2. Try citrus oil.
Studies suggest that various citrus essential oils have powerful antidepressant properties and promote general feelings of relaxation and well-being. Plus, they help alleviate stress by increasing levels of norepinephrine which is a hormone that affects mood. Try dabbing a few drops of lemon or orange essential oil on a cloth tissue or napkin and keeping it in your pocket. Take a whiff anytime you feel holiday-induced stress coming on.
3. Take a minute to breathe deeply.
It can be easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. With so many things needing to be done and relatively limited time to do them, it’s tempting to push yourself further than you normally would. However, for your own well-being and sanity, you could try to set aside a few moments each day to take a deep breath and forget about the stressors around you, if even only for a couple of minutes.
4. Be present.
It’s easy to lose focus of what the holidays are truly about while you’re trying to check tasks off of a totally unrealistic to-do list. This is why it’s so important to truly be present by being “in the moment.” Whether you’re enjoying time with family or friends or simply taking some time to relax in your own space, try to be present in each moment and disengage from the hectic holiday season for a while.
5. Consider adding a 5-HTP supplement to your daily routine.
Available at most drugstores or supplement stores, 5-HTP is a powerful plant extract shown to increase serotonin levels while simultaneously reducing anxiety and improving sleep. It’s important to note that if you take antidepressant medications you should consult your healthcare provider before adding anything else to your treatment regimen.
6. Take advantage of your “hoku”.
What is a “hoku” you may ask? According to traditional Chinese medicine, applying pressure to the “hoku” spot can significantly reduce stress and tension in your body. The spot is located in the fleshy area between your thumb and index finger. Simply apply firm pressure to your hoku for 30 seconds at a time to feel immediate relief.
7. Be realistic.
Though you may feel like you need to participate in all holiday traditions, it’s important to remember that you likely cannot physically do everything while still maintaining your sanity. Prioritize a few important tasks and spend the rest of your energy focusing on sticking with your daily routine. Trying to squeeze in too much will leave you feeling drained and you won’t be able to enjoy any of the wonderful things this time of year brings.
8. Don’t forget to laugh.
It’s true what they say: laughter is the best medicine. In fact, laughing can actually help reduce stress hormones in the body. This, in turn, can help the body’s immune system work better, making your chances of contracting the typical holiday flu lessened dramatically.
9. Leave your perfectionist tendencies behind.
Realize that not everything is going to go as planned this holiday season. The best thing you can do is to prepare for negative situations before they arise. Even so, things aren’t always in your control. Try to go with the flow and let things be.
10. Experiment with new customs and traditions.
Sometimes, we can get in a sort of holiday rut with our customs and traditions. This year, maybe you can experiment with new customs and traditions so you can break out a little bit.
Even if your main cause of stress is due to the numerous things you have to do, it’s important (if you have the energy) to use the holiday season to bring joy to others as well. Call your local shelter or organization and devote a couple of hours a week in service to those less fortunate than yourself.
12. Take a few minutes each day to disconnect from technology.
While having access to virtually the whole world at your fingertips is great, sometimes a break is needed. Try to set aside at least 10 minutes of tech-free time every day (especially before bedtime).
13. Show gratitude.
Perhaps the best thing about this time of year is your potential reflection on the past 12 months and giving thanks for everything you are blessed to have in your life. Try to think of three things each day you are thankful for. You could even start a gratitude journal!
14. Listen to music.
Research from the University of Maryland shows listening to and hearing music you love can actually help to relax blood vessels as well as increase blood flow. This can help reduce stress levels on both your body and mind.
15. Get your workout in.
It’s no secret that regular physical activity is vital to the overall quality and longevity of your body and life. Plus, working out releases endorphins which is why you feel a mood boost after getting your sweat on.
16. Take a vacation.
If your busy schedule allows, take a quick weekend getaway somewhere new. Even just a change of scenery for a few days can do wonders in revitalizing and rejuvenating your holiday spirit and reducing overall stress levels.
17. Stick to your budget.
It’s tempting to go overboard during the holiday season. However, stress can be easily induced when a budget isn’t followed. Instead of buying gifts for every single member of your family, consider making homemade gifts or donating to a charity in their name instead. Remember: you can’t buy happiness.
18. Plan ahead.
One easy way to maximize your time in the most efficient manner possible is to plan ahead. For example, set aside specific days to finish your gift shopping and gather with family and friends. Don’t make your schedule too full though, as that can end up causing even more stress.
19. Don’t be afraid to say no.
You are not obliged to go to every holiday party and gathering or to participate in every single tradition and custom. If it truly doesn’t fit in with your schedule or is causing you unnecessary added stress, don’t be afraid to say no.
20. Keep it simple.
The holidays truly do not have to be as stressful a time as they are. When in doubt, keep things simple. Whatever is causing you stress, try to minimize the situation or eliminate it altogether. Focus on what’s most important to you at this time of year, whether it’s your family, friends or simply having some quality time alone. Simplicity is key.
We hope this guide helps you to manage holiday stress this year. Anytime you feel worry coming on, simply employ these tactics to combat it. Happy holidays! Go forth, eat, drink and be merry!
→ For more stress management techniques, click here.